Does Your Mind Rebel When You Sit to Meditate?
Try this simple practice.
Does your mind rebel when you sit to meditate? Instead of quieting, does it jump around like a drop on a hot skillet? Order the mind to be quiet and you’ll have a fight on your hands. Create a tranquil atmosphere and the mind will soften and focus of its own accord.
The key is preparation, and according to the yogis the best way to prepare for meditation is to bring your attention to sushumna, the energy flowing along the central axis of the body. It is through this passageway that awakened energy rises on its way to the crown chakra. The energy of sushumna flows along the core of the spine, extending from its base upward to the eyebrow center (ajña chakra). A segment of this channel also descends from the eyebrow center to the base of the nostrils. It is this segment that concerns us here.
Focusing on your breath as it moves from the ajña chakra to the base of the nostrils calms and quiets the mind, and gradually you learn to balance the flow of breath passing through the two nostrils. But even if the two nostrils are not completely balanced, this method of relaxed concentration turns the mind inward, away from distractions, and toward meditation.
At first it may be difficult to sustain concentration on the sushumna stream. Don’t be discouraged. Just practice regularly, morning and evening, until you can easily establish a tranquil mind. Then meditation will come more easily. Try it and see for yourself.
Sit erect with your eyes closed. Breathe diaphragmatically. Relax your body systematically, and breathe five to ten times as if your whole body is breathing.
Now bring your attention to the touch of breath in the nostril that is flowing more freely. Focus on the breath as if it is flowing only through this active side. Let distracting thoughts come and go, without giving them your energy. Simply maintain a focus on the breath in the active nostril, letting your nervous system relax.
Next, bring your attention to the breath in the passive nostril. Again feel the flow of the breath until you can maintain your focus without interruption. Maintain your focus here longer than you did on the active side, and as you do the nostril may open.
Finally, merge these two streams into one single, central stream. Inhaling, breathe as if the breath flows from the base of the nostrils inward to the eyebrow center. Exhaling, let the breath seem to flow from the ajña chakra back to the base of the nostrils. Breathe back and forth along this central stream as your mind gradually relaxes. Yogis say that when you can maintain this focus on sushumna for five minutes, you will have crossed a great barrier, and your mind will move toward one-pointedness.